China’s Ruoning Yin, 20, birdies final hole to win KPMG Women’s PGA
Ruoning Yin put on a ball-striking clinic all weekend and then rolled in a 10-footer for birdie on her 72nd hole to win her first major championship.
The 20-year-old Yin hit her final 37 greens in regulation, including her last 18 as part of a bogey-free, 4-under 67 that allowed her to capture the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by a shot over Yuka Saso on Sunday on the newly restored Lower Course at Baltusrol in Springfield Township, New Jersey.
“The last couple days, my ball-striking was perfect,” Yin said. "... Before today’s round, I just told my physio that my goal for today, just no three-putts. I don’t care if I’m winning or not, just no three-putts. I did it, too.”
Yin’s victory marked just the second major triumph by a Chinese player, following Shanshan Feng’s win at this championship in 2012.
Saso, the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion who had missed four straight major cuts entering this week, got up and down for birdie from the left bunker at the par-5 18th hole to shoot 66 and post 7 under to put some pressure on Yin, who was playing in the group behind her.
“When I was on the 18th tee and I saw the leaderboard, and I know I have one-shot lead,” Yin said, “but once ... I saw Yuka make an incredible birdie here, and I know I have to make birdie at this hole to win the championship. I’m glad I did it.”
Yin’s 8-under winning score was one better than this championship’s 54-hole low mark held by Leona Maguire. However, Maguire and her final-group competitors, Stephanie Meadow and Jenny Shin, combined to shoot 3 over on Sunday. Maguire, who began the day a shot clear of Shin, posted a one-birdie 74 and dropped to T-11.
Rose Zhang’s bid for her first major championship title – and second win in as many starts since turning professional – fell just short. The 20-year-old Stanford product, who earlier this month won the Mizuho Americas Open in her pro debut just down the road at Liberty National, played her first 11 holes in 5 under and was just a shot off the lead before pulling her tee shot at the par-3 16th hole and carding bogey.
Zhang parred the closing pair of par-5s to shoot 4-under 67 to end up T-8 at 5 under. It was Zhang’s first career top-10 in nine major starts.
“To be fair, the first week at Mizuho, it felt a little bit just surreal,” Zhang said. “I didn’t feel like I was a professional. I was straight-up coming from NCAAs, and it was kind of just a trial run in my opinion. It was a little start to my career, and I didn’t really have any expectations. Even this week I didn’t have any sort of expectations on myself, but at the same time, I wanted to see where my game ended up with the professionals and to really see if I can able to be in contention on a good day, on a bad day, et cetera.
“It’s really cool to see that my game is there, and I just have to work a little extra harder to play better.”
Like Zhang, Yin won in her professional debut, prevailing on the China LPGA Tour in 2020. She then won in each of her next two starts that year before earning her LPGA card last season via Q-Series. After notching just one top-10 in 16 starts as an LPGA rookie, Yin now has three top-10s, including two wins; she won the DIO Implant LA Open earlier this year.
Yin got goosebumps when reminded about the past greats who have won a Baltusrol, including Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Mickey Wright.
She then offered some additional perspective: “Just one tournament. I think there’s more to come.”